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2018 Midterms

South Dakota Candidate for Attorney General Claims to be Big Shot Prosecutor; Court Says Otherwise



According to audio recordings obtained by Big League Politics, a candidate for South Dakota State Attorney General is significantly embellishing his record as a prosecutor in a State’s Attorney office.

“[I]’ve done civil cases, jury trials, criminal trials, a number of different areas,” said AG candidate Jason Ravnsborg at the Meade County Lincoln Day Dinner in May. “I’m also a prosecutor over in Union County. I’ve done rape cases, attempted murder, and the hardest cases that they have.”



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But a quick call to the Union County State’s Attorney Office by an interested citizen tells a different story. Though Ravnsborg has handled plea deals, he has never had a trial in Union County.

The caller spoke Union County Clerk of Courts, Melissa Larsen, and asked about Ravnsborg’s trial history.



Caller: “Can you tell me if Jason Ravnsborg has done any trials in Union County recently as a Volunteer Deputy State’s Attorney?”

Larsen: “Like, a jury trial?”

Caller: “Correct.”

Larsen: “No, he has not.”

Caller: “Does he appear in court very often there?”

Larsen: “He appears in court on occasion. He’s not here every month.”

Caller: “What type of hearings does he do?”

Larsen: “Whatever the State’s Attorney has appointed him to. I don’t keep track of what he does.”

Caller: “He hasn’t done, like, any attempted murder trials, or rape trials there in the last year?”

Larsen: “We haven’t had any trials with him.”

Big League Politics confirmed with Larsen that Ravnsborg has not conducted any jury trials, but has presided over cases that have pled out.

Ravensborg is a partner at Harmelink, Fox & Ravnsborg, a small private law firm in Yankton, South Dakota. Political observers in the state claim that he ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 at the behest of college friends, former State Legislator Dan Lederman and attorney Joel Arends in order to split the Republican vote and ensure a victory for Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD). Rounds is a Mitch McConnell beholden establishment GOPer who has been described to Big League Politics as “the most corrupt politician in South Dakota.”

Despite his sordid history, Ravnsborg still enjoys support within the South Dakota GOP. He has a close and well-documented relationship with failed congressional candidate Neal Tapio, who came in third in the GOP primary for the U.S. House of Representatives on June 5 for the state’s at large district. According to Ravnsborg’s Facebook profile, Tapio has pledged his support for his AG run:


Politicians embellish their records often. This is not a new practice. But this case is particularly significant considering that Ravnsborg is stretching his experience in the courtroom while running for Attorney General.

Both of Ravnsborg’s opponents have 20 and 30 years of experience as practicing attorneys, repsectively. Ravnsborg’s light workload has allowed him to spend the past three years traveling South Dakota, glad-handing with potential political supporters and cozying up to the State GOP.


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